Dude, where’s your bike?

On August 27 at 1 p.m. a cyclist left a bike worth $1,340 unsecured for a moment on campus. An unknown male jumped on the bike and rode it off into limbo.

That was not typical of bike theft at Portland State. Most bikes stolen have been locked. But as Michael Soto, chief of the Campus Public Safety Office (CPSO), has often cautioned, no bike, no matter how well locked, is entirely safe from theft.

Figures compiled by Steven Coop, sergeant at CPSO, show that bicycle thefts have increased at Portland State since 1999.

However, Coop said, “This does not necessarily mean we have had a huge increase in them, possibly only an increase in numbers actually being reported as a result of leaflets this department distributed on bikes and bike racks here on campus.”

The leaflets he refers to are titled “Bicycle Safety, Security & Registration” and are available at the CPSO office at Southwest Broadway and College street.

Recently, bicycle theft appears to have followed a pattern connected with the weather and the season. The aforementioned theft occurred late in August. Weather was sunny and warm and probably resulted in an increase of students and faculty riding bikes to campus. Between August 6 and August 27 a total of 11 bicycle thefts were reported, a high number compared to most similar three-week periods.

By contrast, the latest crime blotter, covering the last week of September and the first week of October, showed no bicycle thefts reported. During that period, the weather turned autumnal and showery. Probably many fewer riders chose to brave the inclement weather on bikes to the campus.

CPSO figures show that in 1999, 28 bicycles or bicycle parts were reported stolen. The figures for 1998-9 were compiled November to November and the greatest number in any month was seven in November, 1999. The calender year 2000 showed a decrease, with a total of 18. In 2001 it jumped up to 28. The spring month of May had the most, six.

A big increase came in 2002, with a jump to 52 reported thefts. May and July had the most, with eight in each month. From October 2002 to September 2002 there was another substantial increase, to 76 reported thefts.

Most of the thefts were from bike racks. There were some from car breakins. In some cases the locks were broken. On June 25, 2003, a suspect was detained and found in possession of a self-manufactured cylindrical unlock device.

The cautionary flier, which CPSO put out a year ago, gives credence to the good weather theory of bicycle theft. It states, “As temperatures begin rising and more individuals begin using their bicycles as primary sources of transportation to and from the university, it becomes important to follow several safety recommendations to ensure your bike is there when you need it.

The flier urges cyclists to be sure never to leave a bike unlocked and unattended. It recommends using a Kryptonite U-shaped lock large enough to fit around the bike frame and both wheels, and the rack. It advises storing bicycles inside rooms at night.

The flier gives instructions on how to apply the U-shaped lock. It also advises the cyclist to remove loose or easily removed bicycle components, such as computers, tool bags, headlights and bike seats.

CPSO urges cyclists to engrave a bicycle with a personal name or driver’s license number and keep a record describing the bicycle and its factory serial numbers. CPSO provides assistance in marking bicycles.

The final suggestion is to register the bicycle free. The cyclist can stop by the CPSO office or access the registration form at www.cpso.pdx.edu and using the “register your bike” link. The registration requires make, model, size, serial number and any owner-applied numbers. Further information may be had by calling CPSO at 503-725-4407.